Vitamin Creams

July 1st 2014


The depression years of the 1930s were difficult times for many American cosmetic companies and some added vitamins to their skin creams to help improve sales.

Thermolysis and the Blend

June 16th 2014


Until the 1920s, the only way that superfluous hair could be safely removed from the body permanently was by electrolysis. It was slow, often painful and expensive.

Arsenic-Eaters and Cucumber Creams

June 2nd 2014


Cucumbers had long been used to treat freckles and suntan but as the nineteenth century drew to a close some newspaper articles suggested this was because they contained arsenic.

Nail Polish

April 21st 2014


The story of nail polish in the twentieth century is muddied by the fact that the terms polish, lacquer, varnish and enamel were used haphazardly and covered a wide range of products.

Chemical Depilatories

March 31st 2014


Unwanted hair can be removed mechanically, electrically or chemically. Beauty Culture used all three practices but cosmetic chemists concentrated on chemical methods.

Cake Make-up

February 10th 2014


When Max Factor introduced Pan-Cake make-up in 1937, it was regarded as something new by cosmetic chemists until they looked into its formulation.

Compressed Face Powders

January 27th 2014


As women were confronted with the problems of carrying loose powder around in their purse or handbag, many made the switch to using compressed face powders instead.

Rubinstein’s Complexion Analysers

January 14th 2014


Starting in the 1930s, Helena Rubinstein used a number of optical devices to drum up sales. One of these used a light filter that would not be widely used by dermatologists until many decades later.


December 30th 2013


Charles Henri Willi opened a cosmetic surgical practice which operated quite legally in London from 1911 to 1961 without Willi having any medical qualifications whatsoever.

High Frequency

November 11th 2013


Commonly called Violet Rays, high frequency machines have been used in Beauty Culture since the early twentieth century.


October 30th 2013


Lipsticks have their origins in nineteenth century lip-salves that contained a red colouring agent to redden the lips and make them look more attractive.

Embryo Extracts

September 23rd 2013


In the 1940s, a number of French companies began to include chicken embryo extracts in their skin care lines.

Liquefying Cleansing Creams

September 9th 2013


Liquefying cleansing creams were introduced around 1920. These new creams were made only from oils and waxes, so they were water-free and not emulsions.

Revlon and ‘The $64,000 Question’

July 15th 2013


On June 7, 1955, ‘The $64,000 Question’ premiered on CBS-TV. The decision by Charles Revson to have Revlon sponsor the show was to have a dramatic effect on his and the company’s fortunes.

The Bite Test

July 1st 2013


In the early 1930s Lady Esther became the top selling loose face powder in the United States largely due to its use of the only practical field-test for measuring the fineness of face powder – the ‘Bite Test’.

The Drilling Machine

June 10th 2013


In 1905, Ernst Kromayer described the use of motor-driven, circular knives to gradually remove layers of the skin, and later introduced the use of rotating burrs powered by a dental drill.

Complexion Clays and the A.M.A.

June 3rd 2013


The 1920s saw the arrival of America’s first modern beauty craze – complexion clays.

Block Mascara

April 29th 2013


Until the 1960s the most popular form of mascara in the twentieth century was the block or cake type.

Turtle Oil

April 18th 2013


Although turtle oil had long been used as a cosmetic by the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas, it did not find its way into Western skin creams, in any major way, until the 1930s.

Facial Irons

April 1st 2013


Some beauty devices claimed to be able to remove wrinkles through the direct action of mechanical force; to literally ‘iron out wrinkles’.

Artificial (False) Eyelashes

March 13th 2013


A number of people have been credited with the invention of false eyelashes including D. W. Griffith (1916), George Westmore (1917), Max Factor (1919) and Karl ‘Charles’ Nessler (1921).

Panchromatic Make-up

February 26th 2013


As panchromatic film was sensitive to the full colour spectrum the make-up practices used for blue-sensitive or orthochromatic film no longer worked.

Early Movie Make-up

February 17th 2013


Stage actors who came to work in early silent films often assumed they knew all there was to know about make-up but soon realised that, when it came to using it for the screen, they were mistaken.

Iontophoresis and Desincrustation

January 8th 2013


Iontophoresis is a technique that uses an electrical current to move substances across the skin or other body surfaces.

Paraffin Wax Baths

December 14th 2012


In the late 1910s a new heat treatment was introduced – the paraffin bath – which immersed parts of the body in, or painted them with, melted paraffin wax.

Cosmetic Skin

November 26th 2012


In 1934, Lever Brothers placed an advertisement in the World-Telegram newspaper for Lux Toilet Soap, warning consumers about the dangers of ‘Cosmetic Skin’.

Placental Creams and Serums

November 12th 2012


In 1958, Lambert-Hudnut introduced Elixir Natale and Cream Natale into the American market through its DuBarry line. Both cosmetics contained Placentine, a placental extract.

Eyelash Growers

October 29th 2012


Although women often go to great lengths to remove facial hair, there is one place on their face where there never seems to be enough, their eyelashes.

Rubinstein and Red Noses

September 11th 2012


In 1902, Helena Rubinstein arrived in Australia with minimal cash and few prospects. By 1905, she had money in the bank, and a thriving business.


August 30th 2012


Kohl was said to be used by the Russian dancers of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes but it was the silent movie ‘Vamps’ like Theda Bara and Pola Negri that generated the most interest in it.

Massage, Wrinkles and Double Chins

August 7th 2012


By the end of the nineteenth century massage was widely practiced in Europe, Britain and the United States and was also adopted by beauty salons.

Indelible Lipsticks

July 23rd 2012


Interest in lipsticks of the indelible type waxed and waned through the first half of the twentieth century but were generally more popular in the United States than elsewhere.

Red Light, Blue Light

March 14th 2012


Like many other things, red and blue light was first used as a medical practice before being incorporated into Beauty Culture routines.

X-rays and Hair Removal

January 22nd 2012


Although there are numerous methods for temporarily getting rid of excess hair, before X-rays, the only recognized procedure for permanently removing hair was electrolysis.

Pearl Essence

January 10th 2012


The increased use of pastel shaded make-up after the Second World War was followed by a fashion for pearl lustre which made its way into a wide range of cosmetics.

Cosmetic Stockings

January 2nd 2012


As silk and nylon stockings vanished from the shelves, women looked to alternatives. Some turned to leg make-up – also known as cosmetic or liquid stockings.

Pan-Cake Make-up

December 12th 2011


In its day, Pan-Cake make-up was the most successful line ever produced by Max Factor.

Freckle Removers

November 30th 2011


A smooth, soft and transparent skin was an important attribute for Victorian and Edwardian ladies. This made freckles a much hated skin blemish.

Vacuum Suction

November 25th 2011


Many early beauty treatments were based on improving blood circulation. Athough massage was the most commonly used, vacuum suction was another contender.

Straps, Bandages and Tapes

October 22nd 2011


Wrinkles, sagging necks and double chins were commonly treated by early beauty culturists with some form of physical contouring involving straps, bandages or tapes.

Facial Gymnastics

September 20th 2011


Given the rise of the physical culture movement in the nineteenth century it was inevitable that someone would apply its principles to sculpt the face.

Motor Skin

September 5th 2011


In the early part of the twentieth century the Pompeian Manufacturing Company advised automobilists to use its massage cream to overcome the problems of ‘motor skin’.

‘Charles of the Ritz’ Powder Bars

August 29th 2011


In 1939, Charles of the Ritz began to set up powder bars in department stores staffed with ‘blending experts’ who could make up face powder to match the skin tone of any customer.

Petrolatum/Petroleum Jelly

August 10th 2011


Robert Chesebrough began selling petrolatum under the trade-name Vaseline Petroleum Jelly in 1870. After a slow start it went on to become an international best seller.

Rolling Creams

July 5th 2011


The most popular rolling cream of the twentieth century, ‘Pompeian Massage Cream’ began its life in a drug store in Cleveland in 1901 as an after-shave massage cream.

Royal Jelly

June 26th 2011


Largely driven by new methods of preservation and some suspect research, the 1950 saw royal jelly being added to a number of cosmetic lines. Beginning in Europe the fad soon spread.

Water Cosmetique (Mascaro)

June 9th 2011


It is sometimes said that Eugene Rimmel was the originator of mascara. However the product he made was developed to be used on men’s moustaches not women’s eyelashes.

Eyelash Beading

June 1st 2011


Before the days of false eyelashes, many actresses, dancers or others working in show business beaded their eyelashes to make them appear darker, fuller and longer.

Albumin Wrinkle Smoothers

May 15th 2011


In 1964, Helene Curtis Industries, Inc, introduced Magic Secret onto the American market in a blaze of television commercials.

Skin Tonics, Astringents and Toners

April 18th 2011


Early beauty culturists preached the importance of ‘toning’, ‘stimulating’ or ‘freshening’ the skin after cleansing by using some form of skin tonic, skin freshener or astringent.


April 4th 2011


Manual treatments such as massage, bandages, chin straps and patters were used in early Beauty Culture to treat wrinkles, flabbiness and double chins.

Hormone Creams, Oils and Serums

February 17th 2011


Late in 1931 Helena Rubinstein announced to her American clients that she had returned from Paris to personally introduce her new hormone preparations for the regeneration of skin youth.

Arden Screen and Stage Make-up

January 16th 2011


Exactly where Elizabeth Arden’s decision to get involved with Hollywood came from is anyone’s guess. My money would be on Jock Whitney who Arden knew from the racetrack.


December 27th 2010


By the 1840s most theatre stages in the western world had adopted gas lighting in preference to candles or oil lamps. This required actors to change the way they dressed, acted and used make-up.

Lash Lure

November 29th 2010


In October 1933, Paramount released a newsreel describing how several women had suffered corneal damaged from using an ‘eyelash beautifier’.

Skin Foods

September 20th 2010


As the skin ages it thins and wrinkles. To some early observers this was due to a decline in subcutaneous fat, causing the skin to fall into folds.

Hazeline Snow

August 30th 2010


The first commercial stearate cream was introduced in 1892 when Burroughs Wellcome began manufacturing Hazeline Snow.


July 19th 2010


Given the long association between red cheeks and lips with European ideals of health and beauty, it is not surprising that red coloured cosmetics have an extended history of use.


May 17th 2010


Nineteenth century physicians knew that hair grew from a ‘pulp’ at the base of the hair follicle and that eliminating it would permanently remove the hair.


April 19th 2010


The story of Maybelline usually starts with Tom Lyle Williams watching his sister Maybel applying burnt cork mixed into petroleum jelly to her eyebrows and lashes after she singed them on the stove.

Poudre de Riz

March 16th 2010


Exactly when rice powder came to be used as a cosmetic in Europe has yet to be determined. It was used as a base for perfume, as a powder or wash to lighten the skin, and as a powder to whiten wigs.

Face Skinning

October 23th 2009


Face skinning or ecorchement treatments were used on clients who suffered from facial disfigurements such as pits, scars, marks and blotches.

Acid Creams

September 16th 2009


In 1928, Schade and Marchionini coined the term ‘acid mantle’ to describe this low pH film and suggested that its function was to protect the skin from microbes.


August 17th 2009


Early face powders came in three shades, Blanche (white), Naturelle (pink), and Rachel (cream). The names used were French so why was one colour called Rachel and not Crème?

What is a Cosmetic?

August 8th 2009


Most of us use cosmetics everyday and we “know them when we see them”. However, are toothpaste, suntan lotion and anti-dandruff shampoos also cosmetics?

Ingredients Lists

August 4th 2009


Most countries have legislation in place that requires manufacturers to include an ingredients list somewhere on their cosmetic products.

Mercolized Wax

July 7th 2009


Mercury compounds, such as bichloride of mercury (corrosive sublimate) and ammoniated mercury, were used in cosmetics despite numerous warnings of their dangers.

Pearl Powders

June 17th 2009


Powdered pearl has a long history of use in face and body powders. The pearl used was most likely garnered from fresh-water species of oysters rather than the more expensive salt-water varieties.

Loose Face Powders

May 25th 2009


Although powder disappeared from wigs and hair in the nineteenth century it continued to be used by many women, even in Victorian times when cosmetics were under general disapproval.

Queen Alexandra and Face Enameling

May 18th 2009


When the First World War ended in 1918, Alexandra was nearly 64 years of age. She still engaged in public appearances but took to wearing veils, wigs and apparently even had her face ‘enameled’.

Skin Respiration

May 4th 2009


If you saw the film Goldfinger, you will remember the scene where Bond was knocked out and woke up to find Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) dead after being covered in gold paint.

Esther Williams breaks Powell’s Face

April 25th 2009


An interesting description of a incident on the movie ’Hoodlum Saint’ describing use of a make-up technique to give William Powell a non-surgical face lift.

Vanishing Creams

April 20th 2009


Vanishing creams seemed to disappear when spread onto the skin. The first commercial vanishing cream, Hazeline Snow, was introduced by Burroughs Wellcome in 1892.

A Glowing Complexion

April 14th 2009


Tho-Radia cosmetics had a wide product range some of which contained thorium chloride and radium bromide, both of which were radioactive.

Cold Creams

April 6th 2009


Described as emulsions based on beeswax as emulsifier and thickener, these creams have a long history of cosmetic use.


March 31st 2009


Part of our morning ritual is to stand in front of a mirror applying cosmetics – like a moisturiser or foundation – to fix or minimise imperfections in our complexion.

Max and the Tube

March 22nd 2009


Max Factor is widely known for his contributions to the motion picture industry. As television expanded after the Second World War, Max Factor & Co. got involved in this new industry as well.

Complete Story?

March 15th 2009


The introduction of sunscreens means that a wide range of cosmetics are now classified as therapeutic goods. These products do not require a full ingredients list.

Coty ‘Air Spun’

March 6th 2009


Around 1935, Coty began marketing their loose face powders as ‘Air Spun’. The technology was used as a marketing tool to sell the company’s face powder.